Stop, Look and Listen

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.is technology managing them? What about innovation? What about marketing? As organizations continue to get flatter and flatter, we continue to put more and more pressure on the few left in middle management. Its not just the personnel either. That may be the easy part. Now, we are being faced with everyone becoming customer facing, the depth of customer penetration within in the ranks is increasing at a rapid wait. The one answer that so many of us fallback to is technology. And, that is also changing at a rapid rate. So what does a manager have to do? This is a transcription of a podcast with Terri Griffith, author of The Plugged-In Manager. The cornerstone of Dr. Griffiths work is an easy-to-understand framework for plugging in, explained through three core practices.

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    Stop, Look, Listen Guest was Terri Griffith

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    Terri Griffith in her book The Plugged-In Manager describes an easy-to-understand framework for plugging in, explained through three core practices:

    1. Stop-Look-Listen: What do your data say? What do you already know that will help you with this project?

    2. Mixing: How do you balance your available resources? 3. Sharing: How can you achieve better results by

    integrating your choices with other team members?

    About: Terri Griffith, Ph.D. helps people and organizations work with technology. As a Professor of Management at Santa Clara University (Silicon Valley), Terri helps mix together the technology of work (everything from tele-presence to the size and type of tools a crew would use to build a fence), the way we organize to do this work (virtual

    teams, collaborative leadership, hiring and pay plans), and the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the people we work with.

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    Transcription of Podcast

    Joe Dager: Welcome everyone. This is Joe Dager the host of Buiness901 podcast. With me today is Terri Griffith. She is a professor at Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business and author of the newly published book The Plugged-In Manager. Terri is more than a professor, she is a student on how we mix together the technology of work, the way we organize to do this work and the knowledge skills and the abilities of the people we work with. I would like to welcome Terri and with that said, is that what The Plugged-In Manager is all about? Terri Griffith: The Plugged-In Manager is about how to make use of all the resources you

    have at your disposal. I think many of us tend to focus on the one thing were good at. I try to present The Plugged-In Manager as a way to say, our world is made up of people, technology, tools and organizational practices, lets use all three. Then as you think about using all three, how do you put those together in some kind of systematic way. Joe: I notice when I was preparing that youve been doing virtual distributed collaborations since 1984. Not to date you at all, but wow, can you maybe touch upon what was even going on in distributive collaboration back then.

    Terri: Absolutely and, by the way, I was not the first. There were other people out there ahead of me. Weve been thinking about these issues because teams want to find their

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    best members and sometimes their best members just cant be inside those organizational walls. The ideas of telecommuting were being talked about in 1984. The big issue were how can I trust somebody whom I cant see. That actually pushed me to look at what we were calling than computer monitoring. Most managers were saying there is no way; Im going to let you work outside my organizations wall if I cant see you in some way. That was not taken well; we had people, lobbyist, pushing for laws against it. Imagine that, pushing for laws against something in the collaboration space. The issue is now, were just sending out what were doing, and we want people to know what were doing. We know, theyre going to then turnaround and help us get that task done in many cases. Back in 1984, it was a situation of trust and employees having to beg to be able to do this kind of work practice. Now, youve got the US government saying you have to have a telecommuting plan. We werent so much looking at distributed teams; it was more about individual work being done outside the organizations walls. Now things have changed dramatically, and its an exciting time for me. Joe: What carried over from that time period? What has stayed with us? Terri: The idea that we can work all the time, for better or for worse. If there is some kind of connection that we would have gotten when we were sitting in an office next door to the person if there is some kind of connection we can make so that people still know what it is were doing. Such as when is it we are going to get a piece of a project done and how somebody elses piece is then going to fit in with that. So kind of maintaining that, who knows what, who needs what information and how were going to coordinate once we have

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    all that together. Those things were absolutely necessary in the early 80s, and theyre absolutely necessary now. The beautiful thing is the technology is catching up with our needs.

    Joe: Well, I have to compliment you because youve packed a lot of information into a book and into what I would consider an easy read. This is meant as a compliment. There is a lot of information, but you can use it as an airplane book. Terri: I think you can and that was the goal, or the editing teams goal. We wanted to make sure that this book was accessible to everybody and the ideas in there are based on things that weve been studying and have good data, to support since the 50s. This information has been out there but its been out there in ways that were not accessible, and thats always been kind of frustration for me. We know all these wonderful things, why arent they getting used. I think its because of the terms we were using and the way that it was being taught. The way that we were trying to teach it just wasnt singing to folks. My goal was certainly to find a way to talk about these ideas that we know are so important but in a way that people can easily both use and share with their team and then hopefully see it diffuse throughout the organization. Joe: Who is the book meant for? Terri: Im going to say this and you are going to say thats no focus. I wanted to make it valuable for individual contributors, team members, managers and then the executives. The third practice, there are three practices in The Plugged-In Manager, is sharing. My

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    justification for pushing that as an important practice is if Im doing it thats good for me. If Im doing it inside my team, thats probably helping my team in some way. If everybody understands why Im doing things the way, then theyre going to come along and help. Theyre not going to be questioning why were doing it in this particular way So, we can be working together to find a good way to do the work we need. If you have it at the executive level, theyre going to be thinking about what kind of resources can I give to my people. Theyre going to be good at the first practice which is stop, look, listen and theyre going to be good at the mixing piece which is a second practice and so sharing really amplifies the other two. Joe: Is it like developing a best practice?

    Terri: Best practices are getting a lot of bad press these days. So, I will stay away from that. Its a way of thinking; its a discipline around how to approach these things. Would you mind if I go through the three practices in? Joe: No, not at all. Terri: That will give us a common background. The first practice of a Plugged-In Manager is to stop, look, and listen. Like a kid learning to cross the street, you dont want to get hit by a truck, and weve all been hit by trucks in organizations. Maybe, if we take a step back and we say, OK, just for the moment, Im not going to say I have to have that great new shiny piece of technology. I dont have to follow what my colleagues did and implement this new practice or hire this one person or this one person is going to save me. Thats not

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    the way to think about it. Lets stop and look and say, alright, my situation is this; the goals I need are that, my opportunities in terms of my people, my technology and my practices are these. Im going to stop and look and look at those opportunities and then once I do make a choice that first step, now Im going to listen and see how thats going. It ties back in nicely to thinking about using evidence in your work, thinking about using data in your work but stop, look, listen is the first practice. The second practice is this idea of mixing and saying; Ive seen what my options are in terms of my people, my technology tools, and my organizational practice. Sometimes you want to use them in relatively equal power positions. Other times it may be people focused change we need or process focused change or the technology might be the lead, but Im going to look to how to support that decision with the other two. I tell my students, you can never change just one thing. Typically you dont want to change everything all at once, but you want to make small moves and listen for the outcome. Make sure those small moves cover those three dimensions at least in terms of how youve considered how they work together. The third practice is this idea of sharing because as we share other people just come along and help or, find new ways for us to leverage our approach a little bit better. You get more help pushing that boulder up the hill. Joe: I like the three different things. I look at is a learning cycle is what youre explaining

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    and how to distribute that learning to others. Is that a fair summation of it? Terri: I would just add learning and action. I absolutely see that connection back to learning. Both formal and informal learning as we do our work inside an organization. At

    the same time is the focus on action. Given that I know these things, what is it that Im actually going to do and how am I going to do it in a way that will increase its likelihood of success. Most organizational change implementations dont work. They dont work in the way that we hope they would. When we set out a business plan for how were going to do something, and this is coming from lots of research, its not because the idea was a bad idea. Its because we didnt implement it effectively and usually what that means is that somebody used the silver bullet strategy. All of us have bought that cool technology that was going to solve all my problems. Weve been tracking this, I guess for at least 50 years; maybe its going on 60 now. That doesnt work across, tons of different fields, weve seen that it doesnt work, and you need to take this more systematic approach that looks at the full system. That system is the people, the technology and the process. If we just get people to stop long enough to do that and it can be something as easy as Im putting together my meeting agenda, what do I need people to bring to this meeting? Who is coming? So thats people part. What I need them to bring and how were going to be communicating in this thing. Is this going to be face to face which I think of as the technology? And to be face to face, am I going to be doing a presentation? How am I going to get the notes, taking and making them available to others? How am I going to do that? If you just sort of count off the three issues, I think were going to find, we do a much better job and dont get

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    surprised as much. Joe: Is it a how to book or a textbook type?

    Terri: I think its more a how to. I think the first part of the book explains these ideas, talks about why its even more important today than it might have been a few years back. The next parts are the working part, and they say, well thats great but how am I going to do this? How am I going to mix these things together? I tried to talk about it in a couple of different ways, we speak to different pieces of the audience, and you think about a great chef. A great chef doesnt just follow a cookbook. If you were a pure how to, it would look more like a cookbook, and it doesnt do that. Instead it says, here are your basic ingredients, here are your basic methods and techniques and now here is a tool to help you sort out your own situation and think about how to apply it for you. It does have a checklist, and it does have a discussion about here is what youre going to do next. So, how to yes, but more a how to, that expects you to become that good chef. Follow the cookbook, maybe the first time, do it exactly that way, but the next time start thinking about my settings are not exactly the same. The guests that Im inviting to dinner arent exactly like those guests. Im going to make some adjustments here. You dont want a book thats going to say, here is this completely new thing you have to learn how to do because thats hard to expect people to do in todays crazy environment.

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    Instead, I draw on the ideas of negotiation. Even if were not a great negotiator, we at least understand the different steps. I talk about the mixing process, as being a negotiation amongst the stakeholders youre trying to draw in to your work and say, I need to know who my stakeholders are, and I need to know what the issues are on the table

    and are those issues going to be across the three dimensions of people, technology and process. What are the possible outcomes? It forces you to sort of sit back and do the stop, look, listen piece. Sit back and say, well, Im probably doing it this way but what else could I be doing? So think about those different options underneath each issue and then let it roll out like a negotiation which again brings other people into the process and theyre going to help you, more heads are better than one. Theyre going to help you identify things that might be road blocks, people you need to be engaging, issues inside the organization or with your customers and clients that you need to bring into the mix. It seems like negotiation gets us well into the whole process of mixing. So if youve ever done a negotiation before or even watched one on TV, youve got the basic steps down. Joe: With this process using the three key practices you kind of self-organize the teams, the principles around them and who you need within t...